By on January 21, 2012

This Desoto has four wheel disc brakes and is the nicest Detroit iron I found...

(Some of the best stories in TTAC are told by the Best & Brightest, our readers. Many a TTAC career (mine included) started with a comment, then the odd story, and before you know it … Today’s story is from Ted Grant a.k.a. Maybelater. He sent in some pictures from a trip to Cuba. Maybelater is Canadian, he’s allowed to.

When asked for a few words, Ted said he’s not a writer. Then, he wrote the email that follows.

If you have a good story to tell, in words, pictures, or both, send it to me. It will be pro bono, but who knows, it could be the start of a glorious writing career. – BS)

I just returned from holidays in Cuba and snapped some shots of some vehicles in and around Santa Lucia. Most of the pre 1959 Detroit iron is heavily reworked and tired, but the fact that they are still in use is a testament to the original design engineers and the Cuban nationals’ ingenuity with limited resources. Our tour guide told us that even the ugliest POS vehicle that still runs commands big money and is a luxury for the locals. Some older cars have been handed down in families, but the majority of car owners have rich relatives in foreign countries that help them with the purchase. A typical 50’s Detroit ride runs 10 to 15 thousand so they are indeed a real luxury.

A 55 Shoebox on the fly...

I approached several owners of Detroit built vehicles hoping to get some insight on their conversions, but none of them were fluent in English. My Spanish isn’t any better but having the hoods open sure helped.

A russian four litre diesel propels this 55 Pontiac....

The owner of the 55 Pontiac was super friendly and described how he upgraded his car to modern running gear.His “Baby” 55 Poncho is now powered by a four liter Russian built truck motor. The rear axle is a truck semi floating type the same as the green 57 Buick two door sedan. The motors and rear axles are an easy swap but the front suspension and steering is a challenge. He kept pointing out parts he had changed and my nodding approvingly kept him motivated. It was evident he was very proud of his car and a family member will inherit it when his time comes. He is aware of other vehicles available outside of Cuba but has no desires for anything newer. I showed him some pictures I had taken and offered to send them to him but he gratefully declined.

A very tired Buick rag top

Any type of motorized transport is cherished in Cuba, and with wages being so low only a select few will own a car. I was told the average wage is 25 to 40 Cuban convertible pesos per month. Housing is free but that’s small comfort when used cars start at around ten thousand convertible pesos.

A common sight in Cuba

You will also see numerous home built horse drawn carts. The carts have a wide array of solid axles and wheels on them so finding wheels in a wrecking yard must be a challenge. Bicycles and pedal powered trikes are the most common methods of transport.

Your taxi is here!

One can always find people waiting at pick up points on roadways for any form of public transport.

This Model A has seen a few changes

In Cuba the government finds and places you in a job based on your education and skill set. You must serve two years in this position and after two years you can stay if you like it, or move on to another job by your own resources.

A well cared for 52...

The people serving the tourist trade seem to do fairly well and have better vehicles. I’ve wrecked better vehicles than what you will find on the roads in Cuba, but most people seem content with what they have even though they are aware of what they’re missing. The next time I hear someone complain of vehicle prices in Canada, I’ll be tempted to inform them that they haven’t traveled yet …

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82 Comments on “Maybelater’s Trip To Cuba (Exclusive Pictures)...”


  • avatar
    vww12

    «most people seem content with what they have»

    Sure, when you are in prison, you make do. Relatively few of those facing life with no possibility of parole commit suicide, you know?

    They seem content with what they have, as you so nicely put it. Sheez.

    • 0 avatar
      lw

      Geez.. A comparison of a highly advanced civilization to prison.

      Folks have no sense of perspective. If you have access to food and clean water on a regular basis, aren’t being wiped out by a plague or being tortured for looking like a witch/warlock, your doing better than EVERYONE that ever lived on this planet before let’s say 1800.

      Generations of humans worked very hard for many many centuries so that you have a toilet, water facet and a grocery store.

      Next time you drive by a cemetery at 90 MPH in your 400HP convertible, say thank you.

      • 0 avatar
        vww12

        “A comparison of a highly advanced civilization to prison.”

        If you are calling the Socialist gulag that Cuba is “an advanced civilization”, know that just this week a man died there of a hunger strike. Freedom is all he wanted.

        Welcome to Communist paradise, where people drive around in donkey carts and good men die in dungeons.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        You’ve set the bar pretty low.

        So, everyone that risked life and limb on boats to Florida are malcontents?

        Nice snark, 90 MPH + 400 HP. Meaningless, but nice.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Speaking of places that American political extremists portray as socialist gulags, destroying any meaning that the term socialist has, citizens of Canada have free travel to Cuba, and access to goods from Cuba, but US citizens do not. So who has the real economic liberty? US citizens aren’t being restricted by the communist jerks in Havana, but by right-wing jerks in Miami

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        Now now, good people. Let’s not be so quick to high emotion. Surely Cuba is not the worst place to live. It is at peace, and most people get by just fine. There is a lack of freedom, and that bothers a great many people (it would bother me), but others are just as happy to live on a lovely island, simply but contentedly, with those they love. Human happiness is a complicated thing. Perhaps we should mind our business and let others mind theirs (a lesson our politicians should well take to heart).

      • 0 avatar
        vww12

        «socialist gulags, destroying any meaning that the term socialist has»

        The 1976 Constitution of Cuba defined it as a “Socialist Republic”

        The 1992 Constitution of Cuba «describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the “leading force of society and of the state”»

        What part of Socialist gulag are you not understanding here?

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Yeah, a civilization caught in a time warp, where modern conveniences are only enjoyed by govt big shots and tourists.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually before agriculture, most people had clean water and ample food. They often lived a fairly healthy life, but violent deaths were common among hunter-gatherers.

        Shorter lives became common after the ag revolution because diets became unbalanced, and populations were far denser than among hunter-gatherers,and between those changes and the use of livestock animals, disease became much more common.

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        Yeah, no, Cuba is pretty much the definition of socialism — they nationalized the entirety of the means of production. That’s pretty much the definition of socialism.

        What’s destroying the meaning of the term socialism here is the ridiculous application of it to anyone who has no desire to nationalize the means of production (with the exception of GM, where that was done to save it and we intend to sell it back into the marketplace ASAP).

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Outstanding account, Ted.

    When viewed from a distance, the cars are nice and many of us are green with envy, but as you showed, they indeed are very tired. I am also surprised that due to salt air, rust hasn’t eaten them away – years ago, the air on Okinawa sure took its toll.

    Finally, that blue 1952 Chevy – I see that blue on many of the vehicles on Cuba – I suppose it is cheap and widely available.

    Nice work.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Those cars ain’t worth crap in the real world, they’re kept running with adapted parts from whatever they can get their hands on, Havana Auto Parts does not exist, neither does Casa Depot. Not even a single new car dealer, how many countries can you think of where there are NO car dealerships at all?

  • avatar
    orick

    When I was there 10 years ago, I also noticed how well cared for all the cars are on the exterior. They may well be falling apart constantly mechanically, but the paint is immaculate and not a rust spot in sight. Probably because the labour rate is low enough for the car owners to afford good detailing.

    I rented a scooter for a few days to ride out of the tourist area to see the real Cuba and I have to agree that people seem fairly content in the small towns I visited, more so than the americans and canadians I see in small towns. Havana is also a very vibrant city. I wouldn’t call Cuba a prison. It didn’t really have an aura of total oppression that seems to be present in north Korea described in some people’s trip diaries I read online. Just normal folks going about their business.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      “normal folks going about their business”

      Except that people who complain about their business lose their jobs, homes, get put on dungeons, or are shot by firing squad.

      Way to dismiss the misery of millions as if their plight in Socialist paradise were nothing. Viva la Revolución and all that jazz, so long as we don’t have to live there, uh?

      One used to hear that people in Eastern Europe under the Russian boot were just as happy to go on with their daily lives. Funny how after the Wall fell, all of the sudden everybody in the West decried its inherent evilness, but not before.

      Before the wall fell, it was fashionable among intellectual elites in the West to say that “normal folks going about their business”. Because thou shall not criticize Socialist dictatorships while these still cling to power!

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Nobody defends Castro or the Cuban restrictions on freedom. The question is what to do about them. The capitalist solution is free trade, open trade always undermines autocracy. The right in the US generally opposes that, while the left in the US is generally open to that.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        It is not apparent to me why the form of government and way of life in Cuba is anything but a Cuban matter. Being meddlesome busybodies is ever a national pastime among the Yanks. Rather than seeing it as a personal responsibility to bomb and starve the world’s population to a more perfect humanity, perhaps openness, trade, humility, and non-interventionism would be a good general policy.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        “Funny how after the Wall fell, all of the sudden everybody in the West decried its inherent evilness, but not before.”

        I get the feeling that you may not have opened a paper or heard a televised speech in America between 1920 and 1990.

      • 0 avatar

        Nobody defends Castro or the Cuban restrictions on freedom. The question is what to do about them. The capitalist solution is free trade, open trade always undermines autocracy. The right in the US generally opposes that, while the left in the US is generally open to that.

        Ummm, I think you’ll find far more free marketers and advocates for free trade among libertarians and conservatives than you will find among statists. While there are some protectionists on the right, I think you’ll find at least an equal number on the left. It’s not like organized labor likes free and open trade.

        Actually, since Lenin famously said that capitalists will sell the rope that revolutionaries will use to hang them, there’s nothing to say that trade necessarily undermines autocracy. Plenty of governments, businesses and individuals are perfectly happy doing business with despots and autocrats.

        Because there is no possibility of “free” trade with Cuba, because any trade with Cuba would necessarily go through the regime there, I don’t think that opening up trade with Cuba would do anything but prop up the regime. Access to imported goods would still be parceled out to favored parties by the regime.

        When the USSR couldn’t feed its people and it needed to buy wheat from the US, successive US administrations (from both parties) made it clear that the price of the wheat included improving the human rights situation in the Soviet Union. Natan Sharansky says that when you are doing business with a government that oppresses its own people, you need to leverage the power of having something they want to improve human rights.

        I have no problem with lifting the embargo provided that we use trade to leverage more freedom for Cubans. Without that, we’d just be putting money in Fidel and Raul’s pockets and supporting their regime.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The libertarian intellectuals that you are referring to, as opposed to the Cuban lobby pandering conservative politicians I am referring to, are in favor of ending the embargo without conditions. The idea of using sanctions to bully countries into adopting free market principles is not a free market principle.

        http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=10921

        http://reason.com/archives/2000/02/01/orphans-of-trade

      • 0 avatar

        as opposed to the Cuban lobby pandering conservative politicians I am referring to

        The Founding Fathers had a term for lobbying. They called it “petitioning the government for redress of grievances”.

        Somehow when American Cubans and American Jews are doing the lobbying, though, some people have a problem with it. You think that the Cuban regime doesn’t have a whole raft of sympathetic left wing organizations that lobby the US government on behalf of Castro interests? You think that the Iranian regime doesn’t also have people representing their interests here in the US? Some are registered foreign agents, others are ideological allies.

        There are Muslim and Persian lobbies just as much as there is a Jewish lobby. There is a pro-Castro lobby just as much as there is a Cuban-American anti-communist lobby.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        “I have no problem with lifting the embargo provided that we use trade to leverage more freedom for Cubans. Without that, we’d just be putting money in Fidel and Raul’s pockets and supporting their regime.”

        Who is this “we” you speak of, kemosabe? Are you really worried about the American government allowing its citizens to help prop up tyrants and despots? Why, because the government hates competition? Whatever US foreign policy is based on, it is decidedly not a belief in the dignity and equality of man, and if, heaven forbid, you are in a foreign country and you start hearing a lot of concern for your well-being coming out of Washington, watch out! Massive violence will be visited upon you shortly. Just ask the Iraqis.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I’m not saying Cuban Americans do not have a right to lobby. I am saying that the Cuban embargo that many of them lobby for is stupid and ineffective. The Cato Institute and Reason (VERY anti-communist organizations) agree with me.

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      …”people seem fairly content…”

      Sure they do, partly because if you grew up in a house that never had toilet seats you don’t know what you ‘re missing, and partly because the government can jail anyone who doesn’t seem fairly content.

      I visited the USSR in the 70’s (stayed for a month as a student) and people there “seemed fairly content” too. Of course they kept trying to buy my clothes and underwear, but they were “fairly content”.

      Dude, you’re a sad little tourist enjoying the cheapest sunshiny beaches a capitalist can buy from the poor and then saying the servants are happy because they they smile when they bring you the big breakfast they can’t afford.

    • 0 avatar

      I enjoyed the pictures of these old cars, and that is all my dad had, and he would drive them till they wore out.

      I can just imagine what kind of life these cars would have had if they had been shipped to Cuba upon their demise here.

      First car i remember was my dads old Nash, which had bees living inside of it, which we would you have to shoo away before we entered it.

      Then there was the old Rambler, but the front wheel fell off And the Ford which had 4 different size tires for a while.

      Then there was the old gray Ford station wagon with one of those 390s that would run great but burned oil like a tanker. So my dad bought a barrel of oil for $.10 a quart (back in the sixties). As it burned a quart of at least every 40 miles it was my job to put a quart in when he came back from the shipyard each day.

      As regards the happiness aspect, money is needfull and useful, but as the old saying goes, it can’t happiness. But as far as the physical realm is concerned concerned, it seems that sunlight helps.

      Here is a chat it made up that throws some light on the subject: http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Statistical_Correlations.html

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I wonder what is powering that 52 Chevy… that’s one fat exhaust pipe.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    North Korea seems even worse than 1984. In Orwell’s book party members were under constant watch, but the proles were allowed to sort of do what they wanted to. As long as they didn’t attempt any sort of protest, anyway. In NK there doesn’t seem to be any sort of “free prole” class. Those scenes of faux-hysteria over the death of dear leader reminded me a lot of the “two minutes hate”. Better make it look real, or you might be dragged off.

    You don’t get the sense that Cuba is anything like that.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely different situations. North Korea has never been engaged with the outside world, while Cuba before the revolution was a part of the economy of the Western Hemisphere. The large Cuban diaspora is also a factor. North Korea always has been far more isolated from the rest of the world than Cuba. When the USSR could afford client states, people from the eastern bloc traveled to Cuba and vice versa. North Koreans generally did not travel to the PRC or USSR and Pyongyang didn’t allow many outsiders in.

      As for people getting dragged off, there are plenty of cases of dissident Cubans getting exactly that kind of treatment. The “Ladies in White” get roughed up or dragged off just about every time they protest.

      From The Coalition of Cuban-American Women (yes, they are anti-regime):

      August 18, 2011

      In the streets of Neptuno and Hospital, at around 4:30 P.M., mobs instigated by the Cuban regime brutally attacked a group of almost fifty pro democracy women dressed in white as they were about to march through the streets of Havana to advocate on behalf of Cuban political prisoners and the freedom of all Cubans.

      As the “Ladies in White” set off from the house of Laura Pollan located at Calle Neptuno No. 963 between Aranburen and Hospital, following their monthly “Literary Tea”, they were dragged, beaten, kicked, spit upon, scratched, pushed, and had their hair pulled as well as their clothes ripped off by paramilitary mobs. The violence forced them back inside the home they consider their headquarters.

      Is Cuba less repressive than North Korea? Sure, but it’s no picnic. I’m sure that some Cubans, even among those not close to the regime, are content with their lives. Most people everywhere just try to go along and get to tomorrow. The weather is great, Cubans can be very good looking people, and as long as there’s enough food and shelter, I’m sure that life can have its pleasantries. At the same time, though, plenty of Cubans want to have more political and economic liberty.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        “At the same time, though, plenty of Cubans want to have more political and economic liberty.” As would I in their shoes. And on an individual level, I encourage people to try to help Cuban dissidents, to bring attention to their plight, and to take whatever action they feel would help them. This does not include an ineffectual cold war sanctions regime imposed by a government that loves only those despots who cooperate.

      • 0 avatar

        Dead Florist,

        You obviously have a bug up your behind about the US. I’m sure that your own country has at least a few unsavory events in its past.

        I love getting lectured to as an American by people whose cultures have practiced genocide, racism, colonialism and slavery for centuries. To paraphrase an old professor of mine, compared to Europeans, Asians and Africans, Americans are amateurs when it comes to that stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        Ronnie,

        My country does have a lot of unsavory events in its past. I’m an American. But I think we can be better. And until we get better, let’s keep mind our own business, yes? Nobody likes being practiced on.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      ‘North Korea seems even worse than 1984; You don’t get the sense that Cuba is anything like that’

      Are you kidding me? STILL totalitarian in nature. STILL blocked from most (except China) 21st century tech advances. STILL a dictatorship.

      The ‘party’ still runs the show in Cuba. I’ll believe reform from their gov’t when we can go there on vacation and are able to buy Cuban cigars again (and yes, I know that’s our (US) own doing…

  • avatar
    tced2

    I wonder what’s the air pollution of these vehicles vs even near current world production? safety rating? I would much rather have a 40 mph accident in a 2005 car than a ’52 Chevy.
    Years ago, I noted after visiting Mexico that one old vehicle appeared to emit more (visible) pollution in one day than a typical US auto in a year.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      ..”air pollution”…although staffed by over 2000 clerks, supervisors, and party reps, the Cuban Environmental Ministry is fighting a losing battle with diehard clasic car enthusiasts/capitalist reactionaries. Long protected by the great leader (a closet enthusiast), a sweeping purge is rumored inevitable on his demise. They may not get freedom overnight, but a “sugar for catalytic converters” deal could mark a first step in a Cuba/US diplomatic thaw. Another interesting rumor has Barret Jackson auctioning off the entire antique fleet in exchange for 10 surplus B52’s and Guantanamo. Homeland Security is, of course, resolutely opposed to the idea, despite the windfall profits expected.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      But I am sure the average Cuban car is driven a tiny fraction of the miles a typical US driver racks up in the same length of time.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I really appreciate this well informed article.I was stationed at Guantanamo and knew a lot of Cubans. We drove bombs on the base but nothing like the cubans did.

    Soviet bloc diesels ran most things from what I am told. When the gas engines cratered there was no source for new ones. I was also stationed in Panama and there I found a mix of this and new japanese/european vehicles. Totally different but in many ways very similar. Things were just expensive but available. I have always admired the capability to make things run forever. The government there btw was pretty oppressive but nothing like the Castros.

    You cannot compare the population’s existance to being in prison. There are ways in which they do have freedom. However, some things were very aggravating. I was a Hospital Corpsman. When we would dress the wound on a cuban worker we knew it was going to be removed when he went through the gate at night. The guards were searching for contraband. We were also told that they were not allowed to fish without restrictions. A boat was a chance to make it on base or if it was big enough, to Key West.

    IIRC all the workers had their jobs before 1960. I was there in 1976. If there are cuban workers on base now, they are pretty old or the government has loosened it’s grip. Since they provided a lot of income through taxes, I expect the latter has happened. I know this is quite a ways from cars but sometimes an old guy just has to ramble.

  • avatar
    Syke

    That ’55 (’56?) DeSoto looks like it just stepped out of the pages of a 1962 custom car magazine. Only the wheels being way too fancy give it away.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    One foreign country that likes American cars, and what do we do? Sanction it. I’m sure the guy behind the Model A taxi would have preferred a Crown Vic to his Geely MK.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      One foreign country that likes American cars, and what do we do? Sanction it.

      Yes and as all American’s should see 60 years or so into the sanctions, they have worked sooooo well. For the love of god, sell the Cubans whatever they want and let me have Cuban cigars.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Someday soon the Castros will be dead and Cuba will quickly become the Las Vegas of the Caribbean. Entreprenurial Cubans and Cuban offspring in the US will return to their homeland and quickly do good things.

        The solid US auto sheetmetal will migrate to the states, and Cuban workers will all be driving new Hyundais, and the domos will have Lexus and BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        +1 @Dan.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      Here’s a recent video of U.S. muscle cars from the 60s and 70s in Iran.

      One terrorist theocracy where people like U.S. cars, and what do we do? Sanction it.

      Here’s Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, seeking additional sanctions on U.S.-car-loving Iran 11 hours ago:

      http://bit.ly/z8em3x

      • 0 avatar
        Invalidattitude

        Both system still reign because past US policies gave them some legitimacy. Did you remember the picture Rumsfeld shaking hands with his beloved ally, Saddam? So lets no wonder they don’t want to sleep with the same people who helped to gas them.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Iran and Cuba are not the same. The multilateral sanctions against Iran are in response to nuclear weapon development, while the unilateral (US only) sanctions against Cuba are only due to bitterness about the past.

      That said, sanctions are not going to stop nuclear weapon development in Iran, and open trade would undermine the theocracy. The Iranians are very advanced people that had a secular democratic government before the US overthrew it in a coup, launched from the American embassy in Iran, at the request of Britain.

      Iran is the country where women can drive, and that provided zero 9/11 terrorists. Our best friends the Saudis are the ones that do not allow women to drive, that provided the majority of the 9/11 terrorists, and that fund extremist Muslim education around the world. Yet we openly trade with the Saudis.

      I really don’t care about Hillary, she’s wrong here, as she was on Iraq.

      These look like cool guys, I wish they could buy new Challengers, Camaros and Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar

        The Iranians are very advanced people that had a secular democratic government before the US overthrew it in a coup, launched from the American embassy in Iran, at the request of Britain.

        And just what is stopping the Iranians (or rather the Persians, since other ethnic groups don’t really have power there) from instituting a secular democratic government today? Are the Iranians incapable of creating a secular democratic government in 2012 because the Americans staged a coup in 1953? Your “advanced” people have embraced an atavistic and retrograde ideology that has more to do with the 7th century than the 21st.

        In an ideal world, someone would buy up a couple dozen Russian cruise missiles and aim them at Iran’s nine gasoline refineries that haven’t been updated since the revolution. The refineries are already at capacity. Iran is a net importer of refined gasoline and diesel. Few things are easier to blow up than a fuel refinery. Take out the refineries, embargo refined fuel and watch the regime collapse. The key is attacking the regime without stirring a patriotic response from Persians, who are a proud people.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The brutal regieme of the Ayatollah, which we empower with American sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, is preventing a secular government. To say that the people of Iran have embraced their government gives the government too much credit and the people too little.

        Attacking Iran, even very strategically, will just make the awful regieme more sypathetic to the people of Iran. Ending the sanctions is the best long term strategy.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        “And just what is stopping the Iranians (or rather the Persians, since other ethnic groups don’t really have power there) from instituting a secular democratic government today?” History. The destruction of democracy in Iran scarred the country and its people. For years, there was no opposition but in the houses of worship. This is much like many an oppressed people, including blacks in the Jim Crow south. Thus, theocracy was the only thing there to replace the US/UK-imposed dictatorship was finally overthrown. Now the theocracy is the oppressor, and there is real movement to try to overthrow it, but it is not to happen overnight. They are still recovering from the damage our government did them. If we won’t do penance, at least we can learn the lessons of history and stop imposing our will on people with our guns.

      • 0 avatar

        I get it now, it’s always America’s fault. Jeane Kirkpatrick was very perceptive.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        The destruction of Iranian liberal democracy was the US government’s fault, insofar as it set out to, and successfully overthrew, the Iranian government, and then ensured the continued reign of the dictator that followed until it could no longer hold off the angry masses in 1979. That’s a matter of historical fact.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Ive have heard that the main reason the sanctions still exist is that the corporations that had their assets confiscated still have some clout in the US. I think that when Fidel dies, the sanctions should fall. The world has changed a lot since 1959.
    As for the old iron. The 50s cars had huge engine bays and just about anything will fit.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of those corporations no longer exist in any practical manner. Those that have survived would do business with the Castros just as much as they did with Batista.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Coporations are amoral but forward looking and pragmatic, they would like access to the Cuban market. The roadblock is the Cuban exiles in south Florida, who are fine with keeping ordnary Cubans in poverty as collateral damage in their failed fight against the Castros. Having a single-issue voting block in a swing state gives a group a lot of power.

      Organizations that hate Castro’s policies, but don’t have a personal grudge against him, from CATO to Reason, support ending the embargo without conditions.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sure that some Cuban Americans have a personal grudge against the Cuban communists just as I’m sure that some American leftists have a personal love affair with Cuban communism.

        I happen to be ambivalent about the embargo. I believe in free trade, but I don’t think that any trade would be free as long as the current regime is in power. I also don’t think we should be trading with regimes like Zimbabwe’s. If we’re going to trade with despots we should use the trade to leverage them into being less despotic. There is no trade without conditions.

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    Here’s a look back at Cars of Cuba from March 2011-some look better than these, some look worse.
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/3-the-stars/stars-in-traffic/1052-march-2011-stars-in-traffic-the-cars-of-cuba.html

  • avatar
    Joss

    Loved the Renault 4 CV wonder what the running gear [now] is..? Never been to Cuba but I’ve been told American brand cigarettes are considered a kindy tip. Today the American military could easily take out Castro but the embargo continues because we don’t want this poverty flooding to Florida. After the humiliation of the BoP lets leave them – let them fester. Mostly forgotten, almost quaint & poor little island now. That’s not my opinion – that’s the attitude.

  • avatar
    bigpapat

    I also been to Santa Lucia.
    You forgot to mention its one road, between two ghetto villages with 4 hotels. and thats it! theres much better cars in Havana or Holguin..

    also, you should know that all these cars that you see at night are driven by pimps who drive around their ‘ladies’ around. gas cost more than a peso per liter when i was there, so thats super expensive also!

    have you seen the baby blue Moskvitch with the decked out sound system? that guy was for sure a pimp, and he was damn proud of his ride when i gave him 5 pesos to drive me ;)

    i asked him where the subwoofer is, and he replied they can’t get them.

    santa lucia is known for rampant prostitution and decent beaches. i loved it personally. (i stayed in Brisas)

  • avatar
    FPF422

    May I remind you that the US government is still enforcing an economic blockade on Cuba, not allowing ships who have entered Cuban waters to come to the US for long periods… A blockade is an act of war by international laws and despite the restrictions such blockade has, they still have a FREE high quality education and a FREE healthcare system of high quality too… Cuban people are more educated than, for example, what you come across in the US and even the infant mortality is lower than in the US!
    I lived in La Havana for over a year and I never have had any restrictions on what I wanted to do or on what I wanted to talk about… (nor the Cubans I was spending time with)and at all hours of the day and night, I felt (and was) safe in the streets of the capital city… Can you say the same with your so-called free country?
    BTW, I lived in La Jolla (Ca) for 18 months… the people who wanted to show me around, were afraid to stop at red lights after 10 pm in San Diego LMAO! and about education, even in a quite up market neighborhood,… well, let’s say it was difficult not to laugh in their faces… (a bit like here when I read opinions of people who really don’t know what they are talking about or never have had any experience)

    • 0 avatar

      Did you try to visit Oscar Biscet while you were in Havana?

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yeah, thats why so many people are sailing Garbage Cans across the Straight of Florida I suppose. Look, I have not lived in Cuba but I have lived in other parts of the world to include some beautiful places in Europe as well as some of the true crap holes of the world. I am off to another of the later here in a few months.

      Yeah, we have some issues here, but it’s really a great place to live and we are a fairly successful nation as you may have noticed especially considering we subsidize the defense budgets of a good part of the world.

      But as to your argument, we do not have a blockade of Cuba. That would mean we allowed no other countries to trade with Cuba. A blockade would be what we did to them during the Missile Crisis. Wow…learned all that from one of those crummy American schools. You know, the colleges people come from all over the world to study in.

      Additionally, my Father was a Sailor and used to travel to Eastern Bloc nations (Primarily Romania I believe) in the 70s and 80s on occasion. He had no restrictions on him either. They would let Romanians tour the ships. The kids would get autographs…It was a real feel-good thing. When they were done there was the police at the end of the pier to take away the pictures and autographs. Just because you as a tourist with plenty of what frankly, from your post sounds like a lot of Mommy and Daddy’s money live well somewhere does not mean that those unfortunate enough to live there do as well. That is a very self centered view (Probably how you think American’s see the world). You could probably live pretty well in Afghanistan with a lot of Cash. Does that mean those getting stoned to death enjoy it as much?

      If one doesn’t like America, they are free to leave. If one doesn’t like the Government, they are free to complain. This is what makes a free nation. Now go back to pretending wherever you hail from can hold a candle to this great nation and quit lecturing us you self righteous little prick.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yeah, thats why so many people are sailing Garbage Cans across the Straight of Florida I suppose. Look, I have not lived in Cuba but I have lived in other parts of the world to include some beautiful places in Europe as well as some of the true crap holes of the world. I am off to another of the later here in a few months.

      Yeah, we have some issues here, but it’s really a great place to live and we are a fairly successful nation as you may have noticed especially considering we subsidize the defense budgets of a good part of the world.

      But as to your argument, we do not have a blockade of Cuba. That would mean we allowed no other countries to trade with Cuba. A blockade would be what we did to them during the Missile Crisis. Wow…learned all that from one of those crummy American schools. You know, the colleges people come from all over the world to study in.

      Additionally, my Father was a Sailor and used to travel to Eastern Bloc nations (Primarily Romania I believe) in the 70s and 80s on occasion. He had no restrictions on him either. They would let Romanians tour the ships. The kids would get autographs…It was a real feel-good thing. When they were done there was the police at the end of the pier to take away the pictures and autographs. Just because you as a tourist with plenty of money live well somewhere does not mean that those unfortunate enough to live there do as well. That is a very self centered view (Probably how you think American’s see the world). You could probably live pretty well in Afghanistan with a lot of Cash. Does that mean those getting stoned to death enjoy it as much?

      If one doesn’t like America, they are free to leave. If one doesn’t like the Government, they are free to complain. This is what makes a free nation.

      • 0 avatar
        FPF422

        Sorry I misspoke, it’s an economic embargo and diplomatic isolation… and with the threats your diplomacy is making towards companies and countries that want to deal with Cuba, it amounts to the same as a blockade (latest example was Spain and France). Maybe you are unaware of those behaviors by your government but that’s the reality… and when a country votes a law making the indefinite detention of its citizen possible(National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h1540/show)it isn’t a free nation anymore… I could answer you on the other points but as it’s a car blog, I will stop here but I will just tell you that I wasn’t there with lots of money and I wasn’t there as a tourist

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      @FPF422 Ok, Comrade. I’m sure el Fidel would let you back in on the ‘Socialist Paradise’ if so desired. Oh wait, Obama is no better…!

      That’s right, we don’t have to go to Cuba to see ‘old’ cars. Soon, Cuba will be us. Get used to the rides you see around now, 50 years from now, our grandchildren will be driving them, mostly without infotainment and speedometers (as they are all glorified iPads now…and they won’t work).

      -tongue fully in cheek- :)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I must have made a mistake. I could have sworn that this was a car website, but the comments section seems to indicate otherwise.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    My neighbor has a Windsor similar to the one in the picture. His has a 250 on the rear fender, I joked that with him that is what it costs to fill it up. It does start but is not drivable.
    Too bad he can’t export it to Fidel’s happy island, he’d make a fortune off it.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    “You put a what in your Pontiac? Sacrilege!”
    “Calm down; at least it’s not another small block Chevy.”

    Upon viewing the thumbnail, I thought “that Beetle looks wrong.” The Super Beetle tail light housings on the 4CV threw me a curveball.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    My father, who is 59 this year, had a 63 Pontiac as his first car. That means, at best (especially with the Moskovich), his first car 40 years ago was BETTER than most Cubans get for 10k ‘convertible’ Pesos in 2012.

    God help Cuba.

  • avatar

    I lived in USSR and had to look happy when dealing with foreigners – I would end up in hands of KGB if I did not. But otherwise even my father was criticizing communists at every turn. I was openly against regime and when it suddenly fell I was surprised since I thought I would be at middle age or old when it will happen. But life was not so terrible as you may think. Rich people are probably are unhappiest. I bought a new motorcycle right after graduating from school and was planning to buy a new car (Lada of course) when I was in my late 20s when USSR came to end and currency defaulted. Where money came from? From my dad, dealing in black market and other tricks – no salary.

    To fellow Americans: beware – you may be looking at your future in these pictures – when sovereign debt explodes and it may happen sooner than you may expect by kicking can down the road. You will have to pay back 20 trillions one way or another, hard way or even harder way.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A ’57 Buick with a ZIL engine, truck axle, and busted grille is still better than the Encore.

  • avatar
    skor

    I wouldn’t like living in present day Cuba, but if I were forced to choose between our “enemy” Cuba or our “friend” Saudi Arabia, I would pick Cuba without a second thought. At least in Cuba, I wouldn’t get stoned to death by some lying hypocrite mullah for humping the cute chick that lives across the street.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      if I were forced to choose between our “enemy” Cuba or our “friend” Saudi Arabia

      The Economist compiles an annual democracy index. Cuba ends up in the bottom quadrant because it is a dictatorship, of course, but as far as dictatorships go, it ranks fairly high. It’s above Iran, above China, definitely above North Korea (which is at the very bottom of the ranking), and as you would have guessed, above Saudi Arabia.

      These “gulag” comments above are a bit hyped. While it’s obviously not a free country and there isn’t much wealth, there is also a high rate of literacy and little crime, while it lacks the sort of grinding poverty that leads to the starvation that is evident in places such as North Korea. For the average person who is apolitical and not materially ambitious, it could be a lot worse.

      • 0 avatar
        vww12

        «and little crime»

        As reported by the official Communist dictatorship statistics, to be sure.

        Both my wife and I had our $10 baseball hats robbed in the Havana malecon at around 11am on a weekday, around 300 yards away from the former U.S. Embassy building, now called the “United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana” building.

        Regarding poverty, what could be more painful than the sight of the thousands of young women openly dedicated to the foreign sex trade in Cuba, a.k.a. “Jineteras”? Some comfort it must be for those people, and their parents, to know that at least they are not starving.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Well, your $10 theft is certainly comparable to the Rwandan genocide. Perhaps you could form an international tribunal to investigate the matter.

        As for hookers, I don’t need to travel to get those. We have plenty of them right here.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        @vww12

        “Regarding poverty, what could be more painful than the sight of the thousands of young women openly dedicated to the foreign sex trade in Cuba, a.k.a. “Jineteras”? Some comfort it must be for those people, and their parents, to know that at least they are not starving.”

        DUDE! Are you serious?!

        Did you ever walk through Times Square back in the 70’s or 80’s. Yes, there were “thousands of them”.

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